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Q & A

 re. ISKCON and philosophy

author: Tim McEvitt

Who is Govinda?

Govinda is a name for Krishna. Krishna is a name for the supreme being according to the Vedic texts of ancient India, just as Yahweh is a name for God from the Middle East.

Hmmm, 'God'... Is this anything to do with 'an organised religion'?

Probably not in the sense that you're thinking of... You'd have to give your definition of 'religion' to be sure. Perhaps you can investigate more and decide for yourself. Our Society, ISKCON, promotes and shares the Vaishnava and Vedic texts of the East. These texts are revered in the world faith know as 'Hinduism'.

Religion has caused so many problems in the world, has it not?

Quite often people who claim to be following some spiritual or religious system, really are not. For example, someone who abuses children in an educational institution is simply a criminal, nothing to do with the instruction 'Love God and love your neighbour'. Someone who hijacks an airplane and uses it as a missile is also not loving God or his neighbour.

But if someone rejects all spirituality by accepting the claims of certain persons, that person may be making a mistake.

But is there really a 'God'?

Spirituality is about love, peace, being calm and all the nice stuff. But what about the 'God' question. Who is He / She / They / It? How can anyone know about this supreme being entity?

We look into intelligent design, logic and the acceptance of authority here: Is there a God?

So what philosophy do you people believe in?

Here is a summary of the explanation given by Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and the Vedic texts of ancient India.

"Each of us is a living being, one of many, occupying a material body for a period of time. When we die, we (the soul) travel to another body. That body is given by a universal management system according to our past karma. We are making choices at every moment, and those choices are forming our future body i.e. if we will be born into a 'nice' situation or a situation that is not so 'nice'. (Nice is quite a subjective term)

However, whatever body or situation we acquire in the future, they are all temporary arrangements in a world where time eventually destroys everything. The Vedas describe a spiritual sphere, our original home, which is the destination of a serious practitioner of spiritual life. Even beyond this, the most full expression of spiritual life is not a place, but a state of consciousness. This is called Krishna-Prema, or pure love of God. At the stage of Krishna-Prema, the living being deeply loves God and loves all other living beings.

Attaining Krishna-Prema is the goal of spiritual life. It is our original constitutional position that we have now forgotten due to absorption in matter. We have a case of mistaken identity where we confuse dead matter with the spiritual essence, in many subtle ways. So what to do? Seek out sincere spiritual practitioners, inquire from them in a humble manner, practise meditation of various forms e.g. kirtan, japa, etc., study Vedic literature, and lead a life dedicated to love of God. Generally, spiritual enlightenment takes many many lifetimes and is a goal that we should always try to work towards".

 

So are you Hindus?

No, not really, but 'yes' if you like. Does it really matter if someone is this or that? But, specifically, the term 'Hindu' is a word which entered the Persian language in recent times. It is not a Sanskrit word. In the Vedic texts 'religion' isn't seen in the same way as a modern sectarian classification. The ancient texts of yoga, philosophy and wisdom refer to a universal system called sanatana dharma, which is the eternal occupation of the spiritual being. The term 'Hinduism' is thought to have been introduced in the 1830's for convenience - those people in India who hadn't yet been 'converted' to Christianity, Islam or some other designation.

What is Hare Krishna?

Hara is a name for 'Radha', the feminine counterpart of Krishna. Radha is referred to as being the energy of the Supreme and Krishna is seen as the energetic source of all that be. According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, deeper sections of the Vedic texts promote devotion (bhakti) for Radha Krishna. 'Hare Krishna' is the first two syllables of the maha-mantra, or the great mantra.

Hare Krishna / Hare Krishna / Krishna Krishna / Hare Hare

Hare Rama / Hare Rama / Rama Rama / Hare Hare

 Maha-mantra

above: the Maha-Mantra written in Sanskrit

What is ISKCON?

ISKCON is an acronym for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, sometimes referred to as the Hare Krishna people.

 

Do you have to wear orange robes to be a 'Hare Krishna'?

No!

Everyone can wear whatever they like. Only male monks wear saffron robes. Only a tiny percentage of people who appreciate ISKCON are monks.

 

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